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Book review : The Devotion of Suspect X


I love murder mysteries and thrillers where you have to guess who the real villian is. I grew up on James Patterson, Jeffrey Deaver, Micheal Conolly, James Conolly, Harlen Coben and many more modern day masters of the genre. Having said that, THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X is, uncharacteristically, neither a murder mystery, nor an action adventure. And yet, it is so much more.


In Keigo Higashino's thriller ( translated from Japanese ), you witness the murder as it takes place in the very first hour of reading. Yasuko, aided by her daughter, strangulates and murders her abusive ex-husband at her place. Hearing the commotion, their next door neighbour Tetsuya Ishigami, a maths wizard, steps in and offers to help in concealing the crime. He seems to have done a good job too, until the confused police detective calls in his friend, physics professor, Yukawa. The meeting between the maths and the physics professor ( both of whom were former classmates ) ends with Yukawa strongly convinced that Ishigami had a much bigger role to play in the cover up.

It is from here that the book kicks off into a whole new intellectual level as the maths genius and physics professor both begin to play their own game - one to conceal the crime, the other to expose it. Add to this the detective who doesn't follow police procedure but prefers his gut instinct and you have a maze revolving around three very unique characters. 
The pacing of the story, like most things Japanese, is serene and calm. There are no heavy handed chase scenes or fisticuffs for this kind of a thriller - it is very much about intentions and motivations ; clues revealed through dialogues and  the war of two brilliant minds. 

You will marvel at the level of deception that Ishigami has weaved, to ensure his neighbours safety. You will enjoy the manner and brilliance with which Yukawa separates the truth from the red herrings and carries on persistently. At times, there are heavy doses of mathematical and scientific rational which may seem a page too long for your liking, but those are minor issues and probably my own personal impatience. I honestly empathised with both the characters : the protagonist and the antagonist, which is not something that usually happens in a thriller. There are plenty of twists along the way, as each new clue reveals a further trick up Ishigami's sleeve. All this leads up to a stunning final twist that I really did not see coming and I'm betting you won't too. 

For a translation, this is extremely well done. The prose is easy to read and appreciate. The characters ( save, ironically for the actual murderer ) are quite strong headed and deeply motivated towards their goals. Definitely a must read for all thriller fans. I wonder if any other books of this author have been translated - it would be worthwhile to follow his work, I believe.

The book jacket calls it "The Japanese Steig Larsson" referring to the Millenium series. I disagree. Where the latter series is steeped in violence and reveals the depths of human nature, for me this book showed just the opposite : the beauty of devotion to a cause and also the brilliance that exists in the human mind.











My rating : 3 out of 4


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9 comments:

  1. I have to find some time to read this. Hope I'll get out of Sophie Kinsella series some day and read stuff like these as well !

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    1. its a nice change from the routine murder mysteries.. try it out.

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  2. Why is everone reviewing this particular book?!? Anyways, I have ordered my copy :)

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    1. It's part of the Blogadda book review program.. thats why many are reviewing it at the same time :) Enjoy !!

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  3. They give you free books to read?? That is awesome! And will try getting this book soon.. Btw have you tried reading any O V Vijayan's books??

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    1. Seriously, log on to blogaddas program and you get free books to read and review delivered at your doorstep... most of the books are quite good too.

      And no, haven't read any O V Vijayan.. I'm guessing it ain't English and reading Malayalam = reading Egyptian hieroglyphics for me :s

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    2. totally agree with ov vijayan books.Had tried reading a couple of books.But didn't understand much.so put them down midway!

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  4. Can we get to keep the book?? :P
    OV Vijayan's stuff is really heavy.. So much symbolism and things like that!

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    1. Dude.. the book is entirely yours. you don't have to return it :)
      And no, definitely not had a taste of Vijayan :)

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